What to do if your tenancy is coming to an end during lockdown – including finding a new home to rent

A simple no-nonsense guide

In March when a nationwide lockdown was enforced the government advised against moving home. However, two months later renters are experiencing a fresh wave of confusion as they approach the end of a tenancy agreement.

Related: Renters missing out on £41m of energy savings because of this misconception

Many renters will have been hit with the realisation that their tenancy will be coming to an end in the next few weeks or months. If you are unable to stay in your current rented property, this is a daunting time for people. Especially with the added complication of not being able to get out to view new properties.

If you have found yourself in this situation having a clear plan on how to approach the end of a tenancy is key. Movebubble, the UK's fastest-growing rental app, has helped us create the ultimate cheat sheet for the end of a tenancy. It is filled with everything you need to know from dealing with deposits to how to view a new property during lockdown.

How to handle the end of a tenancy in lockdown

How do I end my tenancy?

dining area with storage shelves

(Image credit: Ti-Media)

Most tenancy agreements are created with an Assured Tenancy Shorthold which typically run for 12 months with a six-month break clause. The break clause means you can give your landlord one month's notice to leave the property after six months.

If you don't use the break clause and the 12 months are up, you can either sign an extension to the AST or leave it to go on a periodic rolling. During the rolling phase, renters need to provide one month's notice to the landlord if they wish to leave.

Looking for a new rental property

white sofa with cushions

(Image credit: Ti-Media)

Before ending a tenancy it is a good idea to have a new property already lined up. If you are unable to view properties in person, many estate agents are starting to offer virtual viewings.

Movebubble is offering Home Walkthroughs on the app. These take you on a virtual tour of a property without leaving your front door.

I've given my notice, what happens next?

This is the time to start getting prepared. Make sure you have all your paperwork together, including a copy of your tenancy agreement. It's worth re-reading it, in case you need to reference anything in it when moving-out.

End of tenancy cleaning

cleaning tools

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

This is the step that is going to help you get your deposit back. This isn't just a light scrub, but a proper deep clean.

You can look into a company who offer professional end-of-tenancy cleaning, however, these can be expensive. Due to current circumstances, it might also be something that you prefer to do yourself.

What is the process with inventory and check-out?
This is a key part of moving out. The landlord will need to go through the inventory that you did during check-in to make sure the property is in the same condition as when you moved in, aside from a bit of wear and tear.

It is worth going through the inventory yourself before the landlord to check everything is in the condition you found it. If it's not you can wave goodbye to your deposit.

Handing over the keys

wooden storage shelves

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

Ask your landlord or agent if they would prefer the keys to be returned in person or posted through the letterbox of the property. Due to social distancing they might prefer for you to leave them in a safe place.

Before leaving make sure you have all the copies of the keys to return, and everything is locked up.

Getting your deposit back

If the property is clean and damage-free you should get your full deposit back. However, if the landlord feels you're responsible for any damage they can withhold some of the deposit.

If this happens you will need to agree on the cost of the damage before the landlord keeps any money. All disputes will be settled by the official scheme where the deposit is held.

Related: The four big changes estate agents could make to house viewings after lockdown

Is your tenancy coming to an end soon?

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.